The Cultural Gutter

beyond good and bad, there is awesome

"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." -- Oscar Wilde

Candid Star Wars Set Shots

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Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) has been posting candid shots from the sets of Star Wars on Twitter.

Death to Life Day

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A lot of people my age have vague memories of a Star Wars holiday special back from some time in the 1970s, but beyond that their memories go blurry. Maybe they recall it had something or other to do with wookies, but specifics are difficult to drag up from the recesses of the mind — […]

Henry Plinkett Reviews Star Wars Episodes I-III

Lonely serial killer and film smarty Harry S. Plinkett reviews the Star Wars prequels: The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith. Trenchant analysis aside, current favorite segments are his love advice to Anakin and “Citizen Vader”–starts here and continues. (Trigger warning for those sensitive to ladies held captive in basements […]

King of the World 3D

David Bordwell tells the story of digital projection, 3D and how James Cameron lobbied theaters to buy the technology to show the films he wants to make. Meanwhile, Christopher Nolan wants to save 35mm film.  (Thanks, Kimberly Lindbergs!)

A Movie Less Than Awesome

David DeMoss writes about George Lucas’ film Tuskegee Airmen film, Red Tails, and “unlike every other reformed Lucasfilm fan in existence, [his] dread came with its own personal baggage.” His grandfather was one of the Airmen.

A Magical Tour of Scary Chinese People

As a follow up to “The Yellow Curse,” Grady Hendrix has posted a gallery of images offering a tour of racist stereotypes of Chinese people from 1881 to the present.  

RIP, Bob Anderson

Olympic fencer, sword master, stunt choreographer, performer and actor, Bob Anderson has died. Anderson performed Darth Vader’s lightsaber battles in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Her served as sword master, fight coordinator and stunt performer in films such as 1953′s The Master of Ballantrae featuring a swashbuckling Errol Flynn, The Princess […]

George Lucas Strikes Back

Imprisoned in one room for 20 years, George Lucas wants revenge. (Thanks, John!)

Star Wars Episodes IV-VI Compared

Star Wars Episodes IV-VI compared, simultaneously and in their entirety. Watch while it’s available. (via August Ragone)

Marcia Lucas and Star Wars

The Secret History of Star Wars writes about Marcia Lucas, the woman who made Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi better.   (via Geek Tyrant and Mike White!)

The 5 Stages of Star Wars Fandom

Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance and Star Wars.  (Thanks, B-Sol!)

RIP, Irvin Kershner

Irvin Kershner has died. He directed The Empire Strikes Back, Robocop 2,  Eyes of Laura Mars and The Raid on Entebbe. Vanity Fair recently posted an interview with him about working on Star Wars. Agence France-Presse has a report. Film School Rejects has 5 great Kershner films besides The Empire Strikes Back.

Gary Kurtz Strikes Back (by Saying Things)

Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back producer Gary Kurtz is profiled at the L.A. Times. He has some things to say about the franchise and toys.

The Greatest Summer Movie of All Time

The Empire Strikes Back vs. Raiders of the Lost Ark–which is the greatest summer movie of all time?  Make your voice heard.

Confessions of the B-Masters Cabal

The B-masters confess movies they haven’t seen. “My viewing of Zombie Lake was one of those events that lead you to question everything in your life that has lead up to it. I wouldn’t necessarily say that it was a “where did I go wrong” moment, because many of the choices that brought me to […]

Trapped in a World He Never Made!

Slate‘s Keith Phipps sat through Howard the Duck  and lived to be sad about it. “Howard the Duck, the movie, is as bad as you’ve heard. Actually, it’s worse. But its failings as a film have overshadowed the frequently brilliant 1970s comic book that inspired it.”

ONE TRILLION AND ONE LEANING TOWERS

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1. Overture IslandOn December 4, 2008, the future ended. The event that marked its end was the death of a 92-year old man from the not uncommon cause of heart failure. It would not have been an epoch-ending event save for one detail: the man’s name was Forest J Ackerman.

The Grouchy Snob

Talking about Lucas brings out the worst in me

When people find out that I like science fiction (and write about it), they often try to find a familiar example to talk about. This is a better reaction than to say, “Oh, that crap?” or something along those lines. But recently, the example has inevitably been Star Wars — and what was up to […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    At Paleofuture, Matt Novak writes about Idiocracy‘s unpleasant implications: “Sure. As an over-the-top comedic dystopia, the movie is actually enjoyable. But the movie’s introduction makes it an unnerving reference to toss around as our go-to insult….Unlike other films that satirize the media and the soul-crushing consequences of sensationalized entertainment (my personal favorite being 1951′s Ace in the Hole), Idiocracy lays the blame at the feet of an undeserved target (the poor) while implicitly advocating a terrible solution (eugenics). The movie’s underlying premise is a fundamentally dangerous and backwards way to understand the world.” (via The Projection Booth)

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    Friend of the Gutter, Will McKinley looks at “The 1979 Rockford Files Episode That Inspired The Sopranos.” “A gang from Newark’s South Side is hiding Vinnie Martine’s body in a restaurant freezer. Tony’s mad because Anthony Jr. got caught pranking another mobster. And a boss who’s trying to reform gets his mansion sprayed with bullets. Remember that episode of The Sopranos? If you do, your memory’s playing tricks on you, because all these things happened on a 1979 episode of The Rockford Files—written by Sopranos creator David Chase.”

    And McKinley defends classic television with, “In Praise of Vintage Television.”

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    Journalist Margot Adler has died. She is best known for her work as a journalist on NPR, but she also created the speculative fiction radio program, “The Hour Of The Wolf” and was the writer of Drawing Down The Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today (1979) and Vampires Are Us: Understanding Our Love Affair with the Immortal Dark Side (2014). The New York Times, NPR and  Suvudu have obituaries.  Here Adler discusses Vampires Are Us. And here is an excerpt from Adler’s memoir, Heretic’s Heart (1997).

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    The Toronto International Film Festival has announced its Midnight Madness and Vanguard programs for 2014. There’s lots of goodness in there and it’s worth taking a look even if you aren’t going to the festival, so you can you movie watching later this year or next. We’ll be posting the trailers from the films later.

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    Actor James Shigeta has died. Shigeta appeared in Die Hard (1988), The Crimson Kimono (1959) The Flower Drum Song (1961),  Bridge To The Sun (1961), Paradise, Hawaiian Style (1966), The Yakuza (1974) and many, many television shows.  The AV Club, Den Of Geek and Angry Asian Man have obituaries. Bridge to the Sun is discussed by Robert Osborne and Dr. Peter Feng on TCM.  At RogerEbert.com, Matt Zoller Seitz writes an appreciation of Shigeta’s life and work. “Shigeta, who died yesterday at 81, was a marvelous performer, and his work as Nakatomi Corporation President Joseph Takagi in the original 1988 Die Hard is one of my favorite examples of how an imaginative actor can sketch out a life in just a few scenes and lines.”

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    At RogerEbert.com, Alan Zilberman explores the history of the eye in cinema from Carl Theodor Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) to Mark Cahill’s I Origins (2014). (via Matt Zoller Seitz)

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